It’s times like these that I’m glad I choose to cover a selection of the best games of the week, rather than just one title. It can be all too predictable what that one pick will be at times and this roundup is no exception with the stellar The Sailor’s Dream. That’s not to downplay the adoration the game rightfully deserves but it shouldn’t come at the detriment to other great titles and this is a week crammed tight with great games to try out.
So far I’ve posted exactly 100 games, quite possibly the busiest week I’ve seen since I started the blog. Hopefully that conveys the greatness of the choices in this list considering how effectively it’s been distilled. Here are my suggestions for the best iOS games of the week beginning the 3rd of November 2014.
The World II Hunting BOSS (by Good Net Technology) [$1.99, Universal]
This was actually a very difficult choice to make, whether it deserved a place on the list. It’s clearly flawed, so much so that I can’t recommend it to everyone – the tutorials are in Mandarin, it’s pretty short and the experience can get fairly repetitive. You might understandably be wondering why it’s here then. Well, it looks fantastic; running smoothly even on iPad 2, the creature design and character models are great and the action is strangely satisfying even if some of the fights drag on a little. It’s essentially an ARPG stripped of all the grinding, questing and mob-slaying, reduced down to just the epic boss fights. That might be the exact opposite of what you enjoy in the genre but there’s a lot to be said for bringing down a ten-story foe after five minutes of dodging and striking. It’s also incredibly cheap and serves as a “demo” for an upcoming MMORPG for PC and mobile; if they can take the successful elements of this game and expand upon them then it’s worth watching.
Muertitos (by Antonio Uribe Prado) [99c, Universal]
I have to say, if this were any other week, Muertitos would most likely be my choice for best title. It’s not very often I play a Match 3 game that feels unique, let alone interesting. I’ll admit I have a soft spot for the genre but to say that they’re commonly generic would be an understatement and so I can understand why it has a bad reputation. Muertitos elevates itself over the crowd with style and performance. The Dia de los Meurtos theme is always something I adore and it’s as kooky and brash as ever, but this is much more than a holiday themed game. It channels Threes in the strategising stakes whereby you have full knowledge of the next piece that will come into play but the one after could make or break you. It dances delicately on the edge of luck versus forethought and only gets as difficult as you allow it to. If you have any semblance of love for the genre then you owe yourself Muertitos.
Psebay (by Eugeny Butakov) [Free, Universal]
I’ll admit, I really am not sure what the Russian town of Psebay has to do with this game; maybe the entire area is cloaked in an eerie blue haze with gravitic anomalies dotted around. Regardless, the latest in a very long line of Trials-inspired motorcycle platformers is pretty impressive. The Limbo-esque visuals are as crisp as the screenshots suggest and the challenge is certainly on par with its main inspiration. It might not have the flashy pyrotechnics of other games but the calm serenity juxtaposed with countless muttered curse words is memorable to say the least. It’s worth noting that you will struggle if you intend to treat it as a free game, the bike is woefully under-powered but can be upgraded with real money; it might sound horrendous but it’s balanced pretty well though the IAP menu needs a lot of work.
The Sailor’s Dream (by Simogo) [$3.99, Universal]
Surprising absolutely zero people, The Sailor’s Dream is one of my most recommended titles of the week. Falling somewhere between Year Walk and Device 6 in terms of how it plays, it’s possibly the most accessible of the Simogo games. Aside from that short snippet, there’s very little else I’m willing to divulge about the game; it’s a nightmare reviewing a Simogo release as they’re best experienced with very little foreknowledge. Rest assured though, that The Sailor’s Dream is effortlessly stylish, memorable and affecting. If you enjoy Point ‘n’ Clicks, adventure games, story-driven experiences or just a good book then it would be hard not to enjoy it. It might sound uncivilised to broach the topic of price when discussing a game of this calibre but Simogo almost never reduce the prices of their games so there’s little reason to delay picking up what will most definitely be nominated for Game of the Year by many sources.
Day of the Viking (by [Adult Swim]) [$2.99, Universal]
I don’t think I’ve ever played a premium Adult Swim-published title that has disappointed me; Bring Me Sandwiches, Castle Doombad and Monsters Ate My Condo are still some of my favourite iOS games of all time. Day of the Viking is no exception, offering an old-fashioned genre wrestled straight into the current day. Castle Defence borders on extinction as far as iOS genres go; a stark contrast considering it was so prevalent in the early days of the platform. This is a fast-paced, challenging and satisfying arcade take on the mechanics with the usual charm and slick presentation we’ve come to expect. The presence of boosters is a little unpleasant on the eye but the game is more than manageable without them, a shame but no more than a slight blemish on an otherwise good game.
Blades of Brim (by Sybo Games) [Free, Universal] Canada Soft Launch
I’m not really a fan of runners, be they behind-the-back or side-on, but Blades of Brim is surprisingly enjoyable. Hugely improved on the somewhat basic action of Subway Surfers, there’s a great amount of action taking place in the bright and stylish environments. You flick to change lanes, make jumps and roll as expected but the addition of a combo system that sees you chain hits against multiple enemies to cross chasms and defeat bosses really keeps the tempo and entertainment high. There are no energy bars and the upgrades aren’t actually too expensive for once so it’s a game I can hugely recommend to fans of the genre. Those that despise the gameplay probably won’t have the minds changed but it’s always good to celebrate a game that doesn’t push the freemium aspect as much as the genre is infamous for.
This game won me over immediately, so much so that I reviewed it over on Gamemob. It’s effortlessly stylish, with the Radiangames-esque visual presentation and a gameplay design that leaves everything up to discovery. It’s incredibly difficult to classify, playing like a Shmup crossed with a strategy boardgame and as such, comes across as unique and startlingly fresh. You control your ship with sliding movements across an expanding grid, picking up the items to increase your score. It seems very simple until the pulse’s effect is revealed; object’s properties are modified each time they are touched and so valuable pickups can become deadly turrets or volatile explosives. With further elements introduced as you play and an intriguing blending of gameplay styles, Slider is easily one of my favourite games in a long while.
Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (by Overhaul Games) [$9.99, Universal]
Is it any wonder that a game as important as this is in my picks of the week? Surely not, and with good reason. Icewind Dale, likes it’s forebears, the Baldur’s Gate series, showcases how seriously iOS can be taken as a gaming platform. If the little device in my hand can play one of the most celebrated RPGs of all time then there’s little reason it should suffer the derision it receives from many “hardcore” gaming sources. Icewind Dale is just as impressive, stunning and tough as ever with the move to touch input not damaging it in the slightest. While I’d recommend using a tablet rather than the iPhone, it’s still an impressive feat to see it working on the smaller display. In all honesty though, most people already know if they want this game or not, I can only reiterate that it’s as good as I remember.
Mr. Particle-Man (by Michael Falk) [$1.99, Universal]
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never heard of Michael Falk’s previous game, Ms. Particle-Man, despite it being over 2 years old. It surprises me as I’m a massive supporter of nostalgic titles but luckily, Mr. Particle-Man gave me a chance to make up for that mistake and it more than delivers. The game is an enormous love letter to the NES generation of gaming without an ounce of the cynical cash in on retro-fever. You guide the eponymous hero through countless single-screen rooms, moving him with a perfected relative touch system to pick up the handful of score-increasing items before exiting to the next level. It sounds simple if not for the fact that Mr. Particle-Man’s heritage included a pinball somewhere down the line. You bounce frantically upon colliding with a wall which can be your undoing or a means to solve a tough situation as each level introduces new elements. Lasers, moving platforms, fields that disable the controls and various enemies spice up what is already a fantastic title. The soundtrack is fantastic too, there’s very little reason not to recommend it.